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  • Miwa Messer 7:15 am on 2018/01/22 Permalink
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    Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Spring 2018 Selections 

    The booksellers who sit on the selection committee for our Discover Great New Writers program are always on the hunt for the next great read. Our Spring 2018 picks are a mix of novels, memoir, travel writing, women’s studies, and essays.

    We have the perfect recommendation for readers who loved bestsellers like The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer; The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler; A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara; City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg; Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett; The Son, by Philip Meyer; and Stephen King’s It. There’s a memoir here that had more than one of us holding our breath as we read, and another that made us want to move to India. We loved hanging out (on the page) with Brittney Cooper and Morgan Jerkins, and think you will, too. Some of these books are available now, with more landing in February, March, and April.

    We hope you love them as much as we do. (And just wait until you see what we’re working on for Summer 2018…) 

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano
    Part Auntie Mame, part Precious Ramotswe of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Auntie Poldi is our new favorite amateur sleuth. This spunky, breezy, witty story of death and misadventure is terrific fun, a marvelous escape while we wait for summer to return. 

    Brass, by Xehnet Aliu
    We couldn’t stop reading this beautifully told, often very funny, and always big-hearted story of an unforgettable mother and daughter.  We’re not alone in our love for this novel: Sherman Alexie and Celeste Ng are also fans of Xhenet Aliu’s whip-smart prose and sharp insight.

    The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor
    Sticks and stones will break my bones…
    A childhood game gone terribly wrong jumpstarts this creepy thriller that cuts between past and present. Some of our readers were reminded of Stephen King’s classic novel It, others were reminded of Stranger Things, and the rest of us just didn’t sleep for a week. 

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover’s powerful memoir starts as a searing story of growing up off the grid, and becomes an inspirational story of a young woman who saves her own life through her love of books and learning. (P.S. More than one us held our breath while we were reading, waiting to see what happened next.)

    Eloquent Rage, Brittney Cooper
    We can’t get enough of Brittney Cooper’s often hilarious and always laser-sharp observations about feminism, friendship—and rage, which she argues can be used to drive positive social change. In the words of Rebecca Traister (All the Single Ladies), “Brittney Cooper is a national treasure…this book is just so good.”

    Every Other Weekend, by Zulema Renee Summerfield
    It is 1988 and America is full of broken homes. This melancholic, and often very funny, story of life after divorce is narrated by an irresistible young girl. Our booksellers love this unforgettable debut like they love Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rivka Brunt, and Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett.

    Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quatro
    But this story begins where others end: a boy and a girl in love, a wedding, a happily-ever-after. This is a magnetic—and provocative—story of love and obsession, and the complexities of marriage; a map of one woman’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual desires, and the decisions those desires inform.

    The Gunners, by Rebecca Kauffman
    Our booksellers were reminded of The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, as we read this beautiful, melancholy, smart story of friendship and growing up. The writing is gorgeous, and the characters are so good we’d like nothing more than to keep hanging out with them.

    Heart Berries, by Terese Marie Mailhot
    This memoir by a First Nation woman wowed us. This is an incredible story of survival, of growing up indigenous and mentally ill in a colonial world, told with grace and deep emotional resonance, in a voice that is wildly funny, enraged, and always, always honest. Roxane Gay and Sherman Alexie are fans, too.

    The House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara
    Did you love the emotional intensity of A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara? Are you a fan of City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg, looking for another side of New York City? Or do you just want to get lost in a heartbreaking story of love and family and home, told in a voice that is witty, angry, tender, and wise? This debut novel set in the world of the Harlem ball scene is for you.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? This dazzling novel asks big questions about life and death and love and family. If you loved the fantastic novel The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler, as much as we did, you won’t want to miss this incredible story of destiny vs. choice.

    Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
    Being a teenager is hard enough, and being torn between worlds really doesn’t help. This timely novel is full of universal themes about parents and school and real life, but it was the novel’s terrific narrative voice that grabbed us—a voice our readers couldn’t get enough of and definitely won’t forget.

    The Milk Lady of Bangalore, by Shoba Narayan
    On a map, it’s a little more than 8,000 miles from New York to Bangalore, but luckily for readers, this charming story covers that distance and more, as the search for a perfect cow—and the friendship between two women that results—turns into an adventure that is fresh, funny, and unforgettable.

    Only Killers and Thieves, by Paul Howarth
    Discover alum and bestselling author Paulette Jiles (Enemy Women and News of the World) loves Paul Howarth’s debut novel as much as the Discover selection committee readers do. This is a classic story of brothers and revenge, injustice and honor that will remind some readers of The Son, by Phillip Meyer.

    This Will Be My Undoing, by Morgan Jerkins
    Morgan Jerkins writes beautifully and with great honesty, covering universal subjects like body image, home and family, faith, and books. Readers who couldn’t get enough of the essay collections Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay, or The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison, won’t want to miss this fabulous debut.

    Tangerine, by Christine Mangan
    With nods to The Talented Mr. Ripley and the gothic novels of Daphne du Maurier, this debut novel set in Tangier, 1956—a city on the verge of revolution—sent shivers down our spines. Isolated and overwhelmed, trapped in a loveless marriage, this is not what Alice expected from her post-collegiate life…

    White Chrysanthemum, by Mary Lynn Bracht
    More than one of our readers stayed awake deep into the night to finish reading this heartbreaking story of two Korean sisters brutally separated by World War Two. This is the best kind of historical fiction: a thought-provoking story brought fully to life by the voices of incredible characters.

    The Woman in the Window, by A. J. Finn
    Her husband’s almost home. He’ll catch her this time. We love puzzling out stories with unreliable narrators. And we’re not the only fans of this twisty, page-turning psychological thriller: bestselling authors Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Louise Penny have nothing but praise for this riveting debut.

    The post Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Spring 2018 Selections appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 4:30 pm on 2017/09/11 Permalink
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    Authors Devin Murphy and Kate Quinn Discuss Research, Family History, and Murphy’s B&N Discover Pick The Boat Runner 

    “What was Jacob’s father thinking?” That was the first thing the booksellers who read for our Discover Great New Writers program wanted to know as they read Devin Murphy’s The Boat Runner, an assured, ambitious, harrowing debut about personal redemption and the power of love set during World War II. Like All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, or The Book Thief, The Boat Runner, a Fall 2017 Discover pick, immerses the reader in the experience of war, in this case from the point of view of a teenager coming of age. Jacob, a privileged fourteen-year-old, enjoys a quiet life with family and friends, in a small Dutch town where much of the community’s life is centered on his father’s factory. As the book opens, no one is thinking of war, including the boy’s father, who naively sends Jacob and his brother to a Hitler Youth Camp in an effort to secure German business for his factory. After war breaks out, The Boat Runner follows Jacob over the course of four years, through the forests of France, the stormy beaches of England, and deep into the secret missions of the German navy, where he is confronted with the moral dilemma that will change his life—and his life’s mission—forever.

    Recently Murphy spoke about his debut with Kate Quinn, whose latest novel, The Alice Network, is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Summer Reading Pick and a USA Today bestseller, and brings together the story of a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and that of an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. Here is their conversation.

    Kate Quinn: First of all, congratulations on your release! The Boat Runner is a terrific read.

    Devin Murphy: Thank you, Kate. I loved The Alice Network, so it’s an honor to talk to you.

    KQ: There are so many books about both World War I and II published today. My novel The Alice Network follows a secret network of women spies working in France during World War I; I was drawn to that story because it hadn’t been told before. The Boat Runner follows Jacob Koopman, a young Dutch boy who is fourteen years old on the eve of World War II—what drew you to tell that story?

    DM: I loved reading your Author’s Note about discovering the story of the Queen of Spies and how that launched you into your novel. My experience started with a set of pictures of boys at a Hitler Youth camp. These boys were exuberantly jumping over bomb fires to show their bravery, playing tug-of-war with gas masks on, and joyfully saluting the Führer. It was the gleeful look on their faces that horrified me. They were having fun. They believed in what they were told. This made me start to think about how brilliantly manipulative these camps were at indoctrinating a whole generation of boys into becoming Blitzkrieg soldiers. Then I found a picture of the German navy’s secret mission to create miniature, one-person submarines. The idea of being alone in the middle of the ocean in a vessel with orders to inflict such great violence made me zoom in on what it would be like to be one of those boys. At that moment, my novel burst to life for me.

    KQ: I understand you have a family connection to this history—your mother was born in occupied Holland in 1942, and your grandfather was an electrical engineer at Phillips who was forced into hiding to avoid conscription by the Germans. Not too dissimilar from Jacob’s father in The Boat Runner, who owns a lightbulb factory in a small village in Holland just across from the mouth of the Ems River in Germany. How did your own family history end up influencing the novel?

    DM: The story of my grandfather in hiding always fascinated me. There were rumors that he’d sought refuge in a monastery, gone to England, or been captured, but no one ever knew for sure. This meant my Oma, while caring for my mother and her three sisters during wartime, had to go out looking for her husband. Imagining the fear and uncertainty they all must have faced each day led me into their story, and I began to write about the deep complexities of life under occupation.

    KQ: What sort of research did you do when writing The Boat Runner?

    DM: I went to large museums and dozens of small veterans’ collections to feel weaponry and clothing, studied in every library within two days’ drive of me, and read philosophy, fairy tales, music, and mythology. I’ve always liked history, but during the writing of this novel for the first time I learned how to do research as a fiction writer. I stopped looking for facts and details to dress up a description, and instead sought out scenes and events that I could hold up and ask, Does this event reveal what it was like to be alive at this moment for my character?

    KQ: I see that you worked at sea for three years, which brought you to more than fifty countries across all seven continents! That’s an amazing background to bring to the world of novel writing. What was your job like? How did that experience influence the writing of The Boat Runner?

    DM: When I was nineteen I took a job as a deckhand on a small tourist boat in Alaska for a summer. I tied lines, painted the decks, and kept night watch. I’d never been at sea before, but loved it right away and realized that working on ships would let me see the world. I worked as a bartender, deckhand, purser, waiter, steward, assistant hotel manager, and cruise director, and eventually worked my way up to being an expedition leader on small vessels that traveled to the most exotic places on earth. Being so far from home for years left me feeling isolated from friends and family. I longed for some form of connection and found it by delving into my family’s history. Now I see that in many ways those years were a search for stories to write.

    KQ: And finally, for readers who turn the last page of The Boat Runner and need something just as good to read, what are your favorite World War II novels?

    DM: Years ago, my wife and I both read, and loved, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. She offhandedly said I could write something like that if I did some research. I took her words as a bit of a challenge, so that book has a special place for me. I also loved City of Thieves, by David Benioff, and classics like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

    The Boat Runner and The Alice Network are available now.

    The post Authors Devin Murphy and Kate Quinn Discuss Research, Family History, and Murphy’s B&N Discover Pick The Boat Runner appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 4:45 pm on 2017/07/21 Permalink
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    Perennials Author and B&N Discover Pick Mandy Berman Recommends 5 Coming-of-Age Must-Reads 

    Mandy Berman’s debut novel, Perennials, is a sharp and smart coming-of-age story about nostalgia, adolescent longing, and the enduring power of female friendship, set in the timeless, magical realm of summer camp, “the one place where you could trust that the only thing to change every year would be you.”

    The booksellers who handpick selections for our Discover Great New Writers program loved Mandy’s characters and her fresh take on a familiar setting, and they’re not alone: Rufi Thorpe (Dear Fang, With Love) and J. Courtney Sullivan (Saints for All Occasions) are also fans of Mandy’s debut.

    Here’s Berman to recommend her own favorite coming-of-age novels, perfect for summer reading and beyond.

    Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    This modern classic, about a middle-class teenage girl attending a posh boarding school on full scholarship, is an enthralling meditation on what it feels like to be an outsider while in the already tumultuous throes of adolescence. Sittenfield’s writing on class and gender, through the first-person lens of Lee, is acute, painful, and all-too-real. I related to Lee’s navigation of the thorny, confusing, sexualized path of becoming a young woman.

    Goodbye, Columbus, by Philip Roth
    Roth’s first book, a novella about ill-fated teenage lovers Neil Klugman and Brenda Patimkin, is one of those classics that I can’t believe I only read recently. Roth captures the missteps of youth in love with pinpoint accuracy. Anyone who was ever in their early twenties will remember how it felt to be invincible, as Neil and Brenda both do, and will cringe with recognition at the mistakes they both make, mistakes that, in many ways, usher them unceremoniously into adulthood.

    Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
    On a ski trip with my family when I was fifteen, I went to the slopes for exactly one day, then spent the rest of the week at the hotel’s indoor pool reading this book. Taking place over the course of many summers on Martha’s Vineyard—beginning when best friends Vix and Caitlin are eleven, and concluding twenty years later—Summer Sisters captures the complexities of young female friendship with such acuity and grace it’s no wonder Blume holds a place as one of our most eminent contemporary writers for children and young adults.

    Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
    No book spoke to me more when I was nineteen years old than this Salinger book did, a short story and a novella about two members of Salinger’s recurring Glass family. College freshman Franny’s existential crisis while on a date with a boyfriend, who’s so clearly wrong for her, will stick with me forever. Salinger captures, maybe better than anyone, what it feels like to be young and anxious and out of place and time in a world you’re supposed to belong to.

    Mandy Berman’s Perennials is on sale now.

    The post Perennials Author and B&N Discover Pick Mandy Berman Recommends 5 Coming-of-Age Must-Reads appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 1:00 pm on 2017/02/01 Permalink
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    Drumroll, Please: Introducing the 2016 Discover Award Judges 

    One of the best parts of a bookseller’s gig is championing writers that haven’t yet become household names—and one of the ways we do that here at B&N is with our Discover Great New Writers program, and our annual Discover Awards.

    The Discover selection committee is made up of booksellers from around the country who meet weekly look for the best, the brightest, and the unforgettable. 42 books were handpicked for 2016 from 1,000 or so submissions from publishers of all sizes, and promoted in store, and online, through this blog, the B&N Review and B&N Readouts, among other avenues. (Submissions criteria and guidelines for the program are here.)

    Each year we ask six notable writers (mostly Discover alumni) to serve as judges for the Discover Awards. Those established writers tap the next generation, deciding who receives first, second, and third prizes in fiction and nonfiction–prizes that include a cash award of $30,000 for first place, $15,000 for 2nd, and $7,500 for third—for both fiction and nonfiction—for a total of $105,000.

    The Discover Great New Writers program celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2015, and among the bestselling authors helping us celebrate were Discover Award judges Scott Anderson (Lawrence in Arabia), Eleanor Brown (The Light of Paris), Ben Fountain (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Candice Millard (Hero of the Empire), Cheryl Strayed (Wild).and Thrity Umrigar (The Space Between Us and the forthcoming Everybody’s Son.)
    Last year’s winners were Mia Alvar for In the Country: Stories and Jill Leovy for Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. The complete archive of winners is here.
    We’re delighted to announce our 2016 Discover Award Judges:


    Wiley Cash is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Discover Great New Writers selection A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy. His third novel is forthcoming in 2017 from William Morrow. Cash is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University.

    Benjamin Percy is the author of three novels, two story collections, and a craft book, including The Dead Lands, Discover Great New Writers selection Red Moon, and Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction. His fourth novel, The Dark Net, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2017. Percy’s fiction and nonfiction titles have been published by Esquire, GQ, Time, Men’s Journal, Outside, The Wall Street Journal and The Paris Review. He also writes the Green Arrow and Teen Titans series at DC Comics.

    Emma Straub is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Modern LoversThe Vacationers, and the Discover Great New Writers selection Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, as well as the short story collection Other People We Married. Straub’s fiction and nonfiction have been published in Vogue, New York Magazine, Tin House, the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and The Paris Review Daily, and she is a contributing writer to Rookie.


    Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of 15 books. Her 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: a Life in Two Genders, was the first bestselling book by a transgender American. Her new novel, Long Black Veil, is forthcoming from the Crown Publishing Group in April 2017. Boylan’s novel The Planets was a 1991 Discover Great New Writers selection. She is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University, serves as the national co-chair of the Board of Directors of GLAAD, and is a contributing opinion writer for the op/ed page of the New York Times.

    Sloane Crosley is the author of the New York Times bestselling essay collections I Was Told There’d Be Cake (also a finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and How Did You Get This Number, as well as bestselling novel The Clasp. Her work has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Elle, W, the New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, and on NPR’s All Things Considered.  Crosley is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Interview magazine.

    Brando Skyhorse is the author of a novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, that was a Discover Great New Writers selection, and received both the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Take This Man: A Memoir. He is currently coediting an anthology on passing, forthcoming from Beacon Press. Skyhorse joined the Bennington College faculty in 2016.

    The 2016 Discover Awards shortlist is here; winners will be announced March 1.

    The post Drumroll, Please: Introducing the 2016 Discover Award Judges appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 9:00 pm on 2016/08/08 Permalink
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    Announcing the Fall 2016 Discover Great New Writers Selections 

    2016 has been a good year for our Discover Great New Writers program: Cynthia D’aprix Sweeney’s The Nest and Emma Cline’s The Girls topped bestseller lists. Rumaan Alam’s Rich and Pretty got a nice boost from The Today Show. Yaa Gyasi’s striking debut, Homegoing, had rave reviews and was just featured on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

    It has been a good year for Discover alums, too: Colson Whitehead’s masterpiece The Underground Railroad is the newest pick of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Emma Straub followed her smash hit The Vacationers with with Modern Lovers. Today Will Be Different, Maria Semple’s follow-up to her blockbuster hit Where’d You Go, Bernadette, lands October 4, and Zadie Smith follows up her acclaimed novel NW with Swing Time on November 15.

    And the year’s not over yet. Here are the nine unforgettable titles that comprise our Fall 2016 list. We hope you enjoy them as much as our selection committee readers did.

    The Nix, by Nathan Hill 
    We picked up this very, very funny novel just after breakfast one morning and were two-thirds of the way through by dinner. This smart, laugh-out-loud, bighearted novel about love, loss, longing, and family secrets pings across decades, countries, and generations and features an unforgettable mother and son at the center of a raucous cast of characters.

    The Art of Waiting, by Belle Boggs
    The 34-year-old me has careful but limited savings, knows how difficult adoption is, and desperately wants her body to work the way it is supposed to. Belle Boggs draws on science, memoir, history, reporting, and cultural commentary to deliver a beautifully written, empathetic meditation about fertility and the choices we make to build our families.

    Blood at the Root, by Patrick Phillips
    Patrick Phillips brings to life an ugly and harrowing episode of American history in this meticulously researched and powerfully written history of his hometown, and the violence that kept the community all white, well into the 1990s.

    Children of the New World, by Alexander Weinstein
    We’re crazy for these inventive cautionary tales set in a near-future world of social media implants, manufactured memories, robots, and virtual reality games—and tore through these incredibly fresh stories in a single sitting.

    Mischling, by Affinity Konar
    We couldn’t stop reading this haunting, often dreamlike debut—and we’re still talking about it. The subject’s undeniably difficult, but Konar’s exquisite prose carried us through this kaleidoscopic story, as well as the waves of emotion (fear and longing and love are just the start) that accompany the unforgettable Zagorski sisters.

    The Wangs vs. the World, by Jade Chang
    A family falls apart and comes back together in this sparkling and sharp debut novel that reminds us of The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. An impulsive decision by a self-made cosmetics mogul rocks his family, but what happens next surprises all of them in this witty story of money and manners, identity and the American Dream.

    The Clancys of Queens, by Tara Clancy
    “I’m the whirling dervish of Queens, spinning around and around, arms flapping, my father’s boxing gloves like cinder blocks strapped to my seven-year-old hands.” We quickly fell in love with Tara Clancy’s inimitable and often wickedly funny voice, and couldn’t get enough of the ups and downs of her loving and offbeat family.

    The Lion in the Living Room, by Abigail Tucker
    Celebrity house cats ink movie deals, make charitable donations, and count Hollywood starlets among their Twitter followers. All that, and cats still have no use for humans. Dig deep into the history, biology, and science of house cats in this charming, highly informative read that explains how cats came to rule.

    Orphans of the Carnival, by Carol Birch
    This is the kind of thoughtful, immersive novel we love, like Erika Swyler’s The Book of Speculation or Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels. Two concurrent storylines, each featuring a young woman making her way in the world, pull the past and present together in this atmospheric tale of fame and self-definition.

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